Tuesday, November 17, 2015


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts (folgt noch)

When I started my little home based bakery, I wanted to offer a typical German Schwarzbrot. Though "schwarz" means "black", a Schwarzbrot doesn't have to be a 100% rye bread, only most of the flour should be rye.

With Peter Reinhart's pre-dough method from "Whole Grain Breads" in mind, I cobbled together different recipes into one I could work with. Baking this bread often (my customers love it!) I played with the formula around, and, over the years, tweaked it so much, that it became entirely my own.

It contains whole rye berries, has a little bit of sweetener, but, also, a pleasant natural sweetness, and it is not artificially colored with large amounts of molasses, cocoa, coffee or other additives.

People familiar with my blog know that I'm very much in favor of long fermentation. Breads that are allowed to ripen slowly are much better digestible, and long fermentation reduces the discomfort that gluten may cause for some.

We enjoy Schwarzbrot with ham or other cold cuts, but also with honey

But most important for me - the taste of most breads improves significantly if flavors have more time to develop.

Scarred by my father's strict enforcement of daily Schwarzbrot consumption as a child - "Schwarzbrot macht Wangen rot!" (black bread makes your cheeks red!) was his motto - I never cared too much for dark ryes.

But, overcoming my early Schwarzbrot trauma, I love this hearty, crunchy bread and always bake an extra one for my family, when I make it for my customers. We like it with all kinds of cold cuts,  Fleischsalat (German meat salad) and, also with an aromatic honey.


Rye Berries
150 g rye berries
water, for soaking

150 g whole rye flour
5 g salt
113 g water

40 g whole wheat mother starter (75% hydration)
116 g whole wheat flour
83 g water, lukewarm

Final dough
all cooked rye berries
all soaker and starter
37 g whole wheat flour
3 g instant yeast
11 g salt
15 g molasses
3 g honey
 rolled rye or sunflower seeds, for topping

DAY 1 (afternoon)
In a bowl, cover rye berries with at least 1 inch/2.5 cm cold water and let them soak for 24 hours.

Drain rye berries -  reserve the soaking water to water your plants!

In the morning, stir together soaker ingredients until all flour is hydrated. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature.

Combine all starter ingredients until all flour is hydrated, then knead (using stand mixer or wet hands) for 2 minutes. Let rest for 5 minutes, then knead again for 1 minute. Cover with plastic wrap and leave at room temperature.

Cook soaked rye berries in fresh water for half an hour

In the afternoon, drain soaked rye berries and discard water (I use it to water my plants, it contains a lot of nutrients). Place berries in a saucepan, well covered with fresh water, bring to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 30 minutes.

Place berries in strainer to drain, cover, and let cool to room temperature. (Cooked berries can be kept at room temperature for 24 hours.)

Schwarzbrot is made with a whole wheat starter

In the evening, combine all final dough ingredients in mixer bowl and mix at low speed with paddle for 2 minutes. Continue kneading (paddle or dough hook) at medium-low speed for 4 minutes. Dough will be soft and sticky.

Let dough rest for 5 minutes, then resume kneading for 1 minute more. The dough will still be somewhat sticky. Transfer dough to lightly oiled container. Mist with oil, cover, and refrigerate overnight.

The dough has risen overnight in the fridge

Remove dough from refrigerator 2 hours before using, to warm up.

Preheat oven to 450ºF/230ºC. Spray loaf pan (8 1/2" by 4"/22 cm x 10 cm) with oil.

Loosening the slightly sticky dough with a spatula

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. (If you used a square container, it is already pre-shaped.)

Practically pre-shaped (from the container)...

....rolling it into a sandwich loaf is easy

Roll dough into a sandwich loaf and place it into the pan, seam side down. Mist with water, sprinkle with rolled rye or sunflower seeds, pressing them a bit down with your hands to attach, then spray with oil.

Cover pan loosely with aluminum foil, don't let the bread rise anymore!

Covered loosely with foil, the bread is ready for the oven (no second rise!)

Place pan in oven, reduce temperature to 425ºF/220ºC and bake it for 35 minutes. Take loaf out of the oven, remove aluminum foil, loosen the sides from pan with a spatula, and turn the half-baked bread out onto a baking sheet.

Remove foil from half-baked bread, and turn it out onto a baking sheet

Return bread to the oven to bake for about 30 minutes longer. It should be crisp, and register at least 200ºF in the center.

Transfer bread to cooling rack, mist with water while hot, and let it cool. For the first 24 hours, keep it in a brown paper bag to allow it to continue drying out and developing flavor. After that, it can be wrapped in aluminum foil. (Don't keep it in the refrigerator!).

A very popular bread in my bakery

 BreadStorm users (also the free version) can download the formula:

Ginger (from Ginger & Bread) made a lovely version of this bread: http://gingerandbread.com/2016/01/28/karins-german-schwarzbrot/

Saturday, November 7, 2015


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts

After a rather underwhelming bread experience in an - otherwise nice - hotel last year, I challenged my co-bloggers, facebook friends and hobby bakers from The Fresh Loaf to help fill a basket with "Bread for Götz von Berlichingen", to provide Schlosshotel Götzenburg with a better breakfast choice.

I was so happy with the interesting contributions that I promised myself to bake as many of the 30 breads as possible, and, also, to showcase some of them on my blog - like  Khalid's Götzenburg Bread from Dubai, und Britta's Double Potato Loaf for Götz from the Lower Rhine.

Just in time for Zorra's World Bread Day 2015 I was happy to present Fresh Loaf blogger Dabrownman and his Swabian Potato Bread for Götz of the Iron Fist.

Dabrownman lives and bakes in Arizona

Dabrownman - "everybody calls me Brownman" (or DBM for short) - resides with his wife, college age daughter, and dachshund Lucy in Arizona.

An architect by schooling, he designed and supervised worldwide the construction, and ran the operation of distribution centers for the food industry. "Food and Facilities is what I did the last 23 years".
Dabrownman with "Apprentice" Lucy
Meanwhile retired, he threw himself wholeheartedly into bread baking. With 429 posts since 2012, he is one of the most productive hobby bakers and bloggers that I know.

But not only his recipes with their abundance of  grains and seeds are interesting - his posts are also often very funny!

It's hard to believe, but he is proud owner of just one single baking book: Clayton's Complete Book of Breads. ("With a title like that you only need the one.")

Instead of buildings he is now designing and constructing breads, with help of his four legged "apprentice" Lucy, who obviously has a preference for hearty, crusty loaves, and loves being busy in the kitchen.

Just like her "master", Lucy can't stand the idea of baking the same old loaf twice. "It's like designing and building the same building all the time - much too boring!"

With every bread he bakes, Dabrownman feels inspired to try a new, even better loaf. He doesn't really want to waste his time "to bake over old bread. and hope to get the new bread baked!"

According to Lucy, bread baking, also, keeps the retiree too busy to hang out too often in motorcycle bars!!!

DBM's Breakfast Rolls with Snockered Fruit & Chocolate 

As you can see from the gorgeous photos on his blog (food porn alert!), the passionate baker also creates scrumptious pies and other pastries, like Whole Grain Breakfast Rolls with Snockered Fruit & Chocolate;

DBM swears by freshly milled flour: "It has a more complex flavor, a better, deeper, and more earthy taste. It also is more active in starters and levains".

Resting after a busy baking day!
For his levain he typically takes only a small amount of starter, feeding it in three steps, and then places it for 24 hours in the fridge.

He prefers yeast water over commercial yeast, and often mixes it with his starter.

DBM sifts his whole grain flour, and adds the extracted mineral-rich, coarser parts to his starter - to expedite the fermentation of the levain, and to ensure the hard bits are sufficiently soaked.

"Seems to work well - I have very active levains, and the rise and open crumb are pretty good".

Dabrownman likes Bertinet's dough processing workout, slapping the dough several times forcefully on the countertop. I prefer a gentler approach, and the - less strenous - stretch & fold à la Reinhart that I use for many of my doughs.

Though sifting and extracting the whole grain flour is a bit of an effort, the result is well worth it!

After making it twice, the crusty, hearty bread became one of my favorites (even though my crumb is darker, and not quite as open as DBM's - his extraction might be more efficient.)

An especially hearty wheat-rye bread -worthy of a knight!

8 g mother starter (rye, wheat, spelt, 100%)
50 g old bread, crumbled (I toasted it)
20 g freshly milled, sifted whole rye flour (85% extraction) (*see preparation)
20 g freshly milled, sifted whole wheat flour (85% extraction) (*see preparation)
35 g extracted coarser rye- and wheat parts (*see preparation )
75 g bread flour
203 g potato cooking water, cooled

Final Dough
50 g freshly milled, sifted whole rye flour (85% extraction) (*see preparation)
150 g bread flour
8 g salt
2 g instant yeast
25 g potato cooking water (more as needed - I added an extra 15 g)
100 g cooked, mashed potatoes
25 g softened butter or vegetable oil (I used sunflower seed oil)

Potatoes with thin skins don't have to be peeled

PREPARATION  (85% flour extraction)
Mill about 135 g rye (not too finely - Nutrimill setting exactly between "Finer" and "Coarser"). Sift flour several times through a fine mesh strainer, to extract 15% of the coarser parts (about 18 g will be needed). Set aside both extractions separately.

Repeat this extraction procedure with the wheat. Mix the coarser, extracted wheat bits with the same amount of rye bits (a total amount of 35 g are needed for the starter.)

Boil unpeeled potatoes. Reserve potato cooking water, and let it cool (you will need about 250 ml/1 cup.) Potatoes with thin skins don't have to be peeled.

Mix all starter ingredients in a bowl. Cover, and leave overnight at room temperature (9 - 12 hours). It should double.

The starter should double overnight

Stir starter, and let double again (3 - 4 hours).

Add starter to the other dough ingredients

Mix all dough ingredients. Leave for 30 minutes, then knead at low speed for 8 minutes, adding more water as needed (dough should clear sides, but stick to bottom of bowl).

Transfer dough to a work surface lightly misted with oil or water. With oiled hands, pull and press dough into a rough square, then fold it from top and bottom like a business letter in 3 parts. Fold the same way from both sides.

Stretching and folding the dough

Gather dough package into a ball, and place, seam side down, in an oiled bowl. Cover, and let rest for 20 minutes, then repeat S & F four more times at 20 minute intervals.

Leave for about 1 hour (dough should look puffed). Generously sprinkle a rising basket with a mixture of wheat and rice flours (to prevent sticking.) For an attractive, rustic look, sprinkle the bottom of the basket with coarse ground or rolled rye or wheat.

Instead of flour, you can sprinkle the work surface with chopped rye 

Pre-shape dough into a round, then shape it into a boule. Place, seam-side up, in the prepared basket.

Dust the surface with flour, then put the basket in a large plastic bag. Refrigerate for 12 hours (overnight).

If you want to score the loaf, place it seam side up in the basket

Remove bread from refrigerator about 2 hours before baking, it should have almost doubled. If not, allow it to sit longer on the counter.

Overnight the bread should almost double

Preheat oven to 500ºF/260ºC, including baking stone and steaming device.

Don't be too timid when you score it!

When the bread is sufficiently proofed (finger poke test: a dimple should not fill completely up again, but remain visible), place it on a parchment lined baking sheet. Score, as desired.

Place bread in the oven, steaming with a cup of boiling water. Reduce temperature to 450ºF/ 230ºC After 15 minutes, remove steam pan, and reduce temperature to 430ºF/ 220ºC - switch to convection mode, if your oven has that feature).

Bake for another 20 - 25 minutes, until bread is nice and brown (the crust shouldn't be to light!) and it registers at least 205ºF/96ºC.

Let bread cool completely on a wire rack before slicing.

A rolled rye topping gives the bread an attractive rustic look

BreadStorm users (also the  free version) can download the formula:

Saturday, October 31, 2015


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts (folgt noch)

I found the Spiced Apple Cream Cheese Coffee Cake, October project of the ABC-Bakers, very intriguing. Topped with apples, sautéed in butter with cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg - that sounds delicious!

A coffee cake is a bit of a strange concept for a German - aren't all cakes meant to be enjoyed with coffee? And what is a non-coffee cake? To gain more insight, I checked Wikipedia:

A one layer bundt coffee cake: Red Wine Cake 
"Coffee cake is a common cake or sweet bread.....it is generally intended to be eaten with coffee or tea..... ". 

Hm! I can't really say I see any sense in singling out some cakes as suitable pairing for coffee or tea, and others - pies, tortes, bars? - are not.

But wait - here's more: "They are typically single layer cakes.....square, round or ring shaped.... flavored with cinnamon or other spices, nuts, and fruits. These cakes sometimes have a crumb topping called streusel".

Gotcha! This coffee cake is an impostor! Flavored with cinnamon and other spices, yes, but not one, but fancy three layers! 

My curiosity satisfied (and feeling good about myself) I went ahead and baked the cake, but couldn't resist the temptation to righteously call it a Not a Coffee Cake :)

Legitimate or not - we loved the cake with its spiced apple topping, soft, but not mushy, resting on a delicately flavored cream cheese layer that kept the cake from getting soggy - even after three days.

Legitimate coffee cake or not - we enjoyed it with coffee!

Changes & Comments:
  • My husband likes cinnamon, but not too much - I reduced it by half in the cake batter.
  • I don't like it too sweet - I took less of the overall sugar.
  • Substituting some of the white flour with whole grain (spelt)
  • I found small local tart apples, and did not peel them - unless the skin is very thick and tough, it's really not necessary, and, more important, most of the vitamins are in the skin
  • Trying to "lightly swirl" the cream cheese batter with the cake batter in order "to sort of fuse the two batters together" proved very awkward - I would just spread the cream cheese batter over the cake bottom.

I used small, tart, local apples, and did not peel them

SPICED APPLE CREAM CHEESE CAKE  (adapted from Christina Marsigliese's blog "Scientifically Sweet"
(8-10 servings)

163 g/1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour (I used 120 g AP + 43 g spelt flour)
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp ground cinnamon (I used only 1/2 tsp)
1/2 tsp ground cardamom
1/4 tsp salt
85 g butter, softened
66 g/1/3 cup sugar (I used only 40 g)
71 g/1/3 cup packed light brown sugar (I used 35 g)
1 tsp vanilla extract
50 g/1 large egg
1/2 cup evaporated milk

1 package (250 g) cream cheese, at room temperature
50 g/1/4 cup sugar (I used 37 g)
1/2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1/8 tsp ground cloves
1 large egg yolk
3 g/1 tsp all-purpose flour

28 g/2 tbsp butter
3 whole cloves
1 kg/1 1/4 lbs tart apples, such as Granny Smith or Northern Spy (ca. 4 apples), cored, peeled and chopped into 1/3-inch/1-cm cubes (I used small local tart apples and didn't peel them)
26 g/2 tbsp sugar (I used 18 g/1 1/2 tbsp)
1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

Cook apple pieces "al dente"

For the topping, combine apples, sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in medium bowl.

Heat butter in large non-stick skillet over medium heat until foam subsides. Add whole cloves (to infuse butter) and then add apple mixture. Cook, stirring often, until they just begin to soften (they shouldn't be mushy), about 3-5 minutes.

Transfer apples back to bowl, discard cloves, and leave to cool.

Mixing the cream cheese batter

For the cheesecake layer, beat cream cheese in medium bowl until smooth and creamy (I used a handheld mixer). Add sugar and vanilla extract and beat on medium speed until sugar is mostly dissolved, about 1 minute.

Mix in cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves until combined. Add egg yolk and flour and beat just until incorporated and batter is smooth. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 325°F/165ºC. Lightly grease 20-cm/8-inch round springform pan with butter, and line bottom with parchment paper.

Whisking the dry ingredients is easier than sifting them

In small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, cardamom and salt. Set aside.

In mixer bowl, beat butter with both sugars until fluffy, about 3 minutes. Mix in vanilla until blended. Add egg, and beat until well incorporated, and batter is fluffy, about 30 seconds.

Fold the last portion of the flour with a rubber spatula into the batter

Add 1/3 of the flour mixture and beat on low speed until mostly combined, then add 1/2 of the evaporated milk, and mix until just blended. Repeat this step by adding another 1/3 of the flour mixture followed by remaining milk (beat only 15 seconds between additions).

After all milk has been added, beat on medium speed a few seconds to make sure batter is smooth. Then fold in last of the flour mixture with a rubber spatula, until combined.

Spoon dollops of cream cheese mixture over the cake bottom

Transfer cake batter into prepared pan and spread it out evenly. Spoon dollops of cream cheese mixture over cake batter, then gently distribute it with a wet rubber spatula.

Finally, scatter cooled apples in even layer over cream cheese.

Top cream cheese layer evenly with the cooked apples

Bake until cake is still a bit wobbly in the center, 45-50 minutes.

Transfer cake to wire rack and let cool completely in pan, before removing the ring.

It's a keeper! 

Friday, September 25, 2015


Hier geht's zur deutschen Version dieses Posts (folgt noch)

In 2007, after baking my way through all my old German bread baking books and Peter Reinhart's "The Bread Baker's Apprentice", I checked for more bread formulas in the internet.

In German food magazine Essen & Trinken, one recipe, featuring beer - always a plus! - caught my eye and piqued my interest. The beer was not only used to hydrate and flavor the dough, but, also, cooked into a mash, to feed the starter!

At that time I had the opportunity to chat with Peter Reinhart in an online bread baking Q & A, hosted by "Fine Cooking", and asked him about the boozy, mash-fed starter. He had never heard of such a thing, either.

Not only that - there was another oddity: the recipe described stretching and folding the dough into a neat package, at one hour intervals. What an entirely weird concept! I was puzzled and very intrigued. (Later I found out that S & F as a technique was first mentioned in The Fresh Loaf in 2006. Reinhart's "Artisan Bread Every Day", introducing a larger audience to S & F, was published in 2009).

Stretching and folding a dough - to me (in 2007) a totally alien concept!

A bit skeptical how this could work, I went ahead with the Englisches Kartoffelbrot mit Ale (English Potato Bread with Ale), stretching and folding the dough as per instruction, and was a bit surprised when I saw how the dough became smoother, more elastic, and really showed little gas bubbles, when I cut it to check the development.

My first trial resulted in a very nice tasting bread. But I wasn't quite satisfied with the rather thick and chewy crust. My scoring could have been better, and I didn't think making two long bâtards was the best way to shape it, either.

My first trial - great taste but thick, chewy crust

Over the years, I now and then went back to the curious Potato Ale Bread, adding a soaker to soften the whole wheat, raising the oven temperature in the beginning, and using steam to achieve a thin, crisp crust.

We really like this bread, it is one of the standards I make for myself. My thanks to Flor, the user who posted the original formula, for introducing me to S&F (Stretch & Fold), and a starter that likes ale - same as the baker!

POTATO ALE BREAD (adapted from Flor's Englisches Kartoffelbrot mit Ale)

150 g potato, unpeeled (if the skin isn't too thick)
water for cooking (reserve 225 g for dough)

250 g whole wheat flour
50 g bread flour
4 g salt
225 g potato cooking water, at room temperature (70ºF/21ºC)

Ale Mash
125 g ale
25 g whole wheat flour

all ale mash (lukewarm)
50 g whole wheat mother starter (or what kind of starter you have at hand)

Final Dough
all starter
all soaker
150 g cooked potato
200 g bread flour
9 g salt

Mash cooked potato or cut it in small cubes

Cook potato in water until soft. Measure 225 g of the potato water, and set aside to cool to room temperature. Mash, or cut potato in small pieces, place in small bowl, cover, and refrigerate until using.

For the soaker, mix all ingredients in small bowl, cover, and leave at room temperature overnight.

Cook ale/wheat mixture until it thickens to a cream

For the mash, stir together ale and flour in medium sauce pan until well combined. Heat mixture to 167ºF/75ºC, stirring constantly, until it thickens to a cream. Transfer mash to a medium bowl, cover, and let cool until only lukewarm.

Stir mother starter into cooled ale mash until well combined. Cover, and ferment at room temperature overnight.

Mix mother starter with lukewarm ale mash

Mix final dough ingredients at low speed until all flour is hydrated, 1-2 minutes. Let rest for 10 minutes, then knead at medium-low speed for another 4 minutes. Dough will be very soft and sticky.

Transfer dough to lightly oiled work surface. With oiled hands, pat dough into a rough square, fold from top to bottom like a business letter in thirds, then do the same from the left and right sides (S&F). Gather dough package into a ball, and place, seam side down, in a lightly oiled bowl. Cover with plastic wrap.

Bulk ferment for 4-5 hours, with 4 more S&F at 1 hour intervals. It should have grown at least 1 1/2 times its original size.

Shape dough into a bâtard or boule, and place in floured banneton, seam side up, or down (if you prefer rustic, irregular cracks).

Proof at room temperature for 2-3 hours, until bread has almost doubled in volume (Finger poke test: a dimple should fill a little bit, but stay visible).

Preheat oven to 482ºF/250ºC, including steam pan and baking stone.

Rustic cracks appear when you proof the loaf seam side down

Transfer bread to parchment lined baking sheet (or bake directly on baking stone). Score bread (if smooth side is up).

Place bread in oven, pouring 1 cup of boiling water in steam pan. Bake for 10 minutes, remove steam pan and rotate bread 180 degrees for even browning. Reduce temperature to 375ºF/190ºC, and continue baking for another 30 minutes, until loaf is golden brown, and registers 200ºF/93ºC on an instant read thermometer.

Let bread cool on a wire rack.

Moist and tasty - you can't go wrong with ale!

BreadStorm users (also of the free version) can download the formula:

Friday, July 3, 2015


(For an UPDATED VERSION of this post, go to the new home of my blog at WordPress)

When I moved to Maine in 2001 - to get even with the guy who had sold me a houseful of furniture, but refused to give me a discount - I knew I would be in big trouble. And I was right!

After two days my stomach started complaining, and my brain kept sending "gag" signals, when I walked the supermarket aisles and encountered nothing but shelf after shelf of "Wonderbreads".

Poking one of those proudly-called rye, multigrain, oat nut, or wheat breads with my finger, I found no resistance. I could squeeze them through their plastic bags, and they would spring right back to their original size when I let go. Even toasted, they retained their squishyness and would not support butter or jam without getting soft and soggy.

Eating two warm meals a day was another thing my stomach refused to accept. German families usually have bread and cold cuts either for lunch or for dinner. German schools don't offer lunch, and Mother cooks at home.

As a working mom I used to view this daily cooking as a chore, and bad idea - until my daughter went to Bangor High, and had to eat at the school cafeteria (this experience turned her into a cook, and gave birth to a career as chef!).

Finally, I couldn't take my stomach's growling anymore. I started seeing bread mirages by day, and dreamed of crusty loaves by night. So I went on a quest for German everyday bread, Feinbrot.

Bread selection in a German bakery

The first step was, of course, to find a recipe. That was, in 2001, a big hurdle. No one in Germany baked Feinbrot at home, you could get several varieties in every bakery and supermarket.

My baking books and the internet offered only recipes for specialty breads, but not for the simple loaf I was looking for.

Feinbrot is usually baked with medium rye flour, but I was lucky to find whole rye, if any.

Homemade wheat sourdough
And how to make sourdough? I didn't have the slightest idea! But then I found a recipe for Pain au Levain, made with sourdough, in the "French Farmhouse Cookbook".

Full of enthusiasm I mixed my first starter from the scratch, and, also, as backup and for comparison, another starter from a store bought package.

My first two breads, twin loaves from the two different starters, resulted in two almost identical bricks!

Stubbornly, I kept on baking, producing more bricks on the way - my husband suggested having a supply next to our bed in case of a home invasion - and experimented with different amounts of rye, wheat, temperatures and baking times.

After several weeks (and bricks!) my homemade starter was way ahead of the store bought mix, both in flavor and activity. Slowly, by trial and error, I figured out what bread flour/rye ratio worked best, and which temperatures and baking times delivered the best results.

An open house tour with my daughter at the New England Culinary Institute in Burlington, Vermont, left me green with envy. Valerie was going to learn how to make baguettes - from a real French pastry chef! I went home, and, since I couldn't be one, at least I could buy "The Bread Baker's Apprentice".

Reading Peter Reinhart's instructions I was struck by an epiphany! I had always (as stated in my recipes) just placed a cup with cold water in the oven. Though my bread had the right taste and the right crumb, the crust was rather chewy and thick. But now I learned how to set up my oven for hearth baking - with baking stone and STEAM!

With the discovery of steam, my humble Feinbrot was transformed! Flavorful, a bit tangy, with a thin, crisp crust, it tastes good with cold cuts, but also with honey or jam.

We especially like it with Fleischsalat, the typical German meat salad, made with ham and pickled cucumbers!

Feinbrot tastes great with Fleischsalat!


192 g/6 3/4 oz whole rye flour
64 g/2 1/4 oz whole wheat flour
4 g/1/8 oz salt (1/2 tsp)
195 g/6 1/2 fl oz water

195 g/7 oz whole wheat mother starter (75% hydration) *)
200 g/7 oz bread flour
120 g/4 fl oz water, lukewarm (1/2 cup)

*) The mother starter can be unfed, from the fridge. If you have a white starter, adapt the flour amounts accordingly. But don't use an unrefreshed rye starter - the bread will be too sour!)

all soaker and starter
56 g/2 oz bread flour
10 g/1/3 oz salt
1 g ground bread spices (anise, caraway, fennel, coriander **)

**) For easier use, put equal amounts of anise, caraway, fennel in a spice mill, and give it a couple of turns. I like to make some breads with coriander only, therefore I use a separate mill for it.

In two separate bowls, mix soaker and starter. Cover, and leave at room temperature overnight.

The starter is ready when it's nice and spongy

Mix together all ingredients for final dough, 1 - 2 minutes at low speed (or by hand), until all flour is hydrated, and a coarse ball forms. Knead 4 minutes at medium-low speed (or by hand). Let dough rest for 5 minutes, then knead for 1 more minute, adjusting with a little more flour or water, if needed. (It should feel tacky, but not really sticky).

 After 4 hours the dough is swollen with plenty of gas

Place dough in an oiled container, cover, and let rise at room temperature, for approximately 4 - 5 hours, or until it has grown to about 1 1/2 times its original size.

Place bread, seam side up, in floured rising basket

Transfer dough to a lightly floured work surface. Shape it into a boule, and place in floured banneton, seam side up.

Proof at room temperature for about 2 1/2 - 3 1/2 hours, or until bread has grown about 1 1/2 times its original size, and a dimple, made with your finger, comes back a little bit, but remains visible. (Don't forget to preheat the oven!)

Sufficiently proofed - finger poke test positive!

Preheat oven to 500ºF/260ºC, with steam pan and baking stone.

Turn bread out onto parchment lined baking sheet (or peel to bake directly on the stone). Score.

Place bread in oven, pouring a cup of boiling water into the steam pan. Reduce temperature to 475ºF/246ºC, bake for 10 minutes, then lower oven temperature to 425ºF/218ºC.

After 10 minutes, remove steam pan, rotate loaf 180 degrees for even browning, and continue baking for another 20 minutes, or until crust is deep golden brown, bread sounds hollow when thumped on the bottom, and internal temperature registers at least 200ºF/93ºC.

Let bread cool on wire rack

Feinbrot with spelt:
Replace rye and whole wheat flours in soaker with 256 g spelt flour, use only coriander instead of spice mix.

Feinbrot with oat:
Replace rye in soaker with oat flour.

Feinbrot with nuts:
Add a handful of toasted nuts to the dough (I like it with whole hazelnuts).

Wholesome - but not holey!

Updated and completely rewritten post (first published 10/31/10)

Submitted to Yeast Spotting